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African Mayors Call for Debt Cancellation for Ebola-Stricken West Africa

G20 Moves Forward on Ebola Debt Relief Plan.
African mayors gathered in Accra, Ghana, to call on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to cancel debts owed by the countries impacted by the Ebola epidemic. The Global Alliance of Mayors and Leaders from Africa and of African Descent made the call in a communique named "The Accra Accord on Ebola." This call follows efforts by Jubilee USA, a religious debt relief group, to move forward a debt relief plan for Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The plan was endorsed by the US government who brought the plan to the G20 summit. 100 million dollars in debt relief could become available from a special IMF trust fund set aside for countries impacted by natural disasters.

"The call from African mayors must be heard," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA. "Debt relief means a long term investment in health infrastructure in the countries affected by Ebola."

Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia owe an estimated $370 million to the IMF, $55 million of which is due over the next two years. Guinea, where the outbreak began, spends more money annually on debt than on public health. US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is negotiating with the G20 to make the debt relief plan a reality. The IMF trust fund, where the debt relief funds are available, was established in 2010 when Jubilee USA called for the cancellation of Haiti's debt after its devastating earthquake.

"Debt relief is not only needed to fight Ebola, but also to strengthen these health systems for the future," said LeCompte, who sits on UN expert groups that monitor the global debt crisis. "We stand with these African leaders and call for debt cancellation."

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 400 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org